August 15, 2013

I can feel it now: the warm sun on my shoulders, feet resting in the slightly chilly Pacific Ocean, my shoulders and arms burning with every rotation. Ahhh, kayaking. The aquatic sport is the perfect mix of aerobic activity and sightseeing, making it a must-do on your trip to Orange County. Now that it'€™s on your to-do list, here are some great spots for seeing the bluer side of Orange County'€™s shores.

Upper Back Bay, Newport Beach

Arguably one of the best spots to kayak in all of Orange County, Upper Back Bay provides a stunning view of protected wildlife where salt and fresh water meet. This estuary provides perfect calm waters to kayak in, and you are guaranteed to see a new side of Orange County that you may have never known existed.

To take full advantage of the Back Bay experience, take a two-hour kayak tour with Newport Beach Conservancy. The tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. for $25 per person. This tour is for skilled paddlers and novices alike, ages 8 and up, and leaves from Newport Aquactic Center. Learn more here. If you'€™d like to opt out of the tour, rentals are also available at Aquatic Center for $14-20 per hour.

Newport Harbor, Newport Beach

Million dollar houses? Check. Luxury yachts? Check. A view few others get to enjoy? Double check. If you'€™re looking for a perfect way to see what kind of homes Orange County has to offer the market, look no further than Newport Beach'€™s stunning harbor. From Lido Isle to Balboa Island, this spot where land meets the sea provides stunning eye candy, smooth water and a tour around one of Orange County'€™s most beloved beaches.

Stop at Southwind Kayak Center to pick up your boat(s) for $14-20 per hour, or grab a boat for the entire day for a flat rate from $50. It'€™s recommended to make reservations if you have a group of more than eight people.

Huntington Harbour, Huntington Beach

Heading north a few miles up the coast is another stunning harbor: Huntington Beach Harbour. Kayakers here are lucky to enjoy a ride with plenty to look at: stunning homes, boats of every size and harbor-dwelling wildlife.

Photo credit: Huntington Beach Marketing & Visitors Bureau

Pick up a boat at Sunset Kayaks, located on Pacific Coast Highway, and set off from its harbor-front location. There are five public access beaches in the Harbour: Davenport Isle, Humboldt Isle, Trinidad Isle, one across from Trinidad Isle (go down Edinger at Temple Dr), and one at the end of Grimnaud Dr nest to Admirality Isle.

Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

When Richard Henry Dana called Dana Point the most romantic spot in all of California, he did so for good reason. The headlands overlooking the harbor -- plus it'€™s seven miles of stunning seaside cliffs and beach -- are made for lovers. Not only is it gorgeous, but Dana Point Harbor'€™s calm waters provide the ideal location for kayaking and taking in the view.

Pick up a rental kayak at the harbor from Dana Point Jet Ski & Kayak Center for $15-20 per hour, or take a 2-hr guided tour with Kayak Tours Dana Point ($35 per person). Aside from the romantic view, you'€™ll see dolphins, sea lions and lots of other sea life that call Dana Point home.